April 26, 2024

Here’s the defense tech at the center of US aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan

Source: The MIT Technology Review

Journalist: James O'Donnell

For a closer look at the military technology at the center of the aid package, I spoke with Andrew Metrick, a fellow with the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank.


This week, just hours before the new aid package was signed, multiple news outlets reported that the US had secretly sent more powerful long-range ATACMS to Ukraine several weeks before. They were used on Tuesday, April 23, to target a Russian airfield in Crimea and Russian troops in Berdiansk, 50 miles southwest of Mariupol.

The long range of the weapons has proved essential for Ukraine, says Metrick. “It allows the Ukrainians to strike Russian targets at ranges for which they have very few other options,” he says. That means being able to hit locations like supply depots, command centers, and airfields behind Russia’s front lines in Ukraine. This capacity has grown more important as Ukraine’s troop numbers have waned, Metrick says.


A rising concern for the US defense community—and a subject of “wargaming” simulations that Metrick has carried out—is an amphibious invasion of Taiwan from China. The rising risk of that scenario has driven the US to build and deploy larger numbers of advanced submarines, Metrick says. A bigger fleet of these submarines would be more likely to keep attacks from China at bay, thereby protecting Taiwan.


“Shooting down Shaheds with an expensive missile is not, in the long term, a winning proposition,” Metrick says. “That’s what the Iranians, I think, are banking on. They can wear people down.”

This week’s aid package renewed White House calls for stronger sanctions aimed at curbing production of the drones. The United Nations previously passed rules restricting any drone-related material from entering or leaving Iran, but those expired in October. The US now wants them reinstated.

Even if that happens, it’s unlikely the rules would do much to contain the Shahed’s dominance. The components of the drones are not all that complex or hard to obtain to begin with, but experts also say that Iran has built a sprawling global supply chain to acquire the materials needed to manufacture them and has worked with Russia to build factories.

“Sanctions regimes are pretty dang leaky,” Metrick says. “They [Iran] have friends all around the world.”

Read the full story and more from the MIT Technology Review.


  • Andrew Metrick

    Fellow, Defense Program

    Andrew Metrick is a Fellow with Defense Program at CNAS. His research focuses on the linkages between strategic objectives and operational plans with a specific interest in un...